Stringent new terms designed to trap Saddam
By Richard Beeston
Saddam Hussein will have to pull off one of the greatest escapes of modern history — if he survives the coming weeks — when his regime is placed under the international spotlight as the world’s most powerful military masses on his borders.
Iraq prepared yesterday to receive the official version of the latest United Nations Security Council resolution, but experts in Baghdad will have advised the Iraqi leader already that hidden in the text are some unpleasant surprises designed to trap him and possibly trigger his downfall.
America and Britain, the authors, have imposed stringent new conditions. One of the most novel ideas, contained in the so-called “defector clause”, allows UN inspectors access to all Iraqi officials and scientists connected with weapons of mass destruction.
First, Iraq must reveal the names of all its officials connected to its weapons programmes. The scientists, soldiers and officials can then be summoned, interviewed in isolation and, if necessary, taken abroad with their families to be questioned more closely.
This is designed to stop the intimidation of Iraqi officials and encourage more defectors from the Baathist regime. In the past, high-level defections, such as that of Hussein Kamel, exposed the most sensitive information about Iraq’s hidden weapons arsenal. The new inspection regime also gives the UN unprecedented power to search and seal off suspected sites. Two earlier concessions to the Iraqis over entry to so-called “presidential” and “sensitive” sites have been revoked.
Inspectors have a mandate to impose an “exclusion zone” around a site to stop anyone or anything being removed, particularly suspected mobile biological weapons factories. The UN will use helicopters and unmanned reconnaissance aircraft to monitor the area and ensure that the Iraqis do not break the new rules.
These intrusive measures are designed to make Saddam think hard over the coming 30 days, when he must reveal all aspects of his nuclear, chemical, biological and ballistic missile programmes to the UN. Iraq denies that it retains any weapons of mass destruction, but US and British sources are convinced that substantial stockpiles remain hidden around the country, many of them in residential areas around Baghdad.
If inspectors unearth any hidden weapons, Baghdad will have exhausted the “final opportunity” offered by the international community. It will then be in “material breach” of its obligations and likely to trigger the “serious consequences” of a new war by a US-led coalition determined to overthrow the regime in Baghdad. —London Times